Arkansas Politics

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

State legislators are beginning to consider proposals for constitutional amendments that could eventually go to a vote of the people. Wednesday was the deadline for members of the Arkansas House of Representatives and Senate to file such proposals. In the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Thursday, lawmakers discussed two of the nearly thirty proposals filed in both chambers.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A bill to require Arkansas political candidates file their campaign finance reports through an online system advanced out of a committee in the Arkansas House of Representatives Wednesday.

Tom Cotton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., on Tuesday (Feb. 7) introduced a bill meant to reduce legal immigration levels by 50%, which he said would increase wages earned by American workers.

According to Cotton’s office, the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act would reduce overall legal immigrants to 637,960 in its first year and to 539,958 by its tenth year, compared to 1,051,031 immigrants in 2015.

Jake Files
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Senate has approved a bill that would require Amazon and other major online retailers to collect state sales taxes. The measure passed Monday by a vote of 23-9 and now moves to the House.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jake Files of Fort Smith, told his colleagues that Arkansas is one of only six states that don't collect sales taxes and is missing out on potential revenue.

"In 2014 it was estimated in one study that Amazon sales alone would have brought $32 million into the state, and then I've heard anywhere up to $100 million," Files said.

File. State Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers).
arkansashouse.org

Republican State Rep. Jana Della Rosa of Rogers is renewing her effort to make Arkansas political candidates’ campaign finance reports more searchable. Della Rosa filed a bill this week requiring legislative, judicial and constitutional office candidates to enter their campaign finance information electronically through a new online system.

The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office is currently installing the system. Della Rosa says the measure will allow people to more easily see who contributes to candidates.

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to a tax break for retired veterans that will be paid for by raising taxes on soda, candy, unemployment benefits and digital downloads.

The Senate on Thursday approved legislation to exempt military veterans' retirement benefits from the state income tax.

The measure passed on a 29-0 vote and heads to the governor's desk.

The measure faced opposition from conservatives who said that funding the $13 million exemption means raising taxes elsewhere.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a $50 million income tax cut that primarily affects people earning below $20,999 a year.

Under Act 79 of 2017, cuts to the affected income earners’ marginal tax rate would start in 2019. The law also commissions leaders of the Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives to appoint members of a 16-person task force to consider future tax legislation.

Arkansas State Capitol building.
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's $50 million plan to cut taxes for thousands of low-income Arkansans and to form a panel that will call for deeper reductions in two years.

The Senate on Monday approved by a 33-0 vote Hutchinson's proposal to cut income taxes for those making less than $21,000 a year. The plan, which takes effect in 2019, now heads to Hutchinson's desk.

Governor Asa Hutchinson radio address
Office of the Governor

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is concerned about how President Donald Trump’s trade protectionist talk could affect Arkansas’ economy. He also opposes a bill creating education savings accounts from tax-deductible donations because a fiscal impact statement shows it would cost the state budget $10 million in its first year.

During a Thursday (Jan. 26) press availability in his office, Hutchinson was asked about the impact of President Trump’s presidency on global trade following the announcement that Mexico’s president has cancelled a meeting between the two world leaders.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A revamped effort to establish a voter identification requirement in Arkansas is making headway in the state Legislature.

Republican Rep. Mark Lowery of Maumelle is the sponsor of HB1047, which would amend the Arkansas Constitution and require voters to show photo identification at the polls. It’s the second attempt to bring a voter ID statute to the state.

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